Screening is an important piece of harm reduction for sex workers. A lot of it is gut instinct, and the rest is getting the right information from the potential client.
Before we get into screening tips and tricks, I need to acknowledge that screening is not a guarantee that a client will not be violent or abusive. But, if we have access to their personal information, they are less likely to harm us because they know that we can take action against them if we so choose. At the very least, this information can be used to warn other workers about abusers.
The First Thing to Keep in Mind When Screening Escort Clients
The first thing to keep in mind when communicating with a potential client is to watch the tone of the communication. Do they speak respectfully? Do they understand boundaries and consent?
This does not guarantee a good experience (my most violent former client was very polite over text message), but it does increase the chances of a safe encounter. When potential clients send me sexually explicit messages or bombard me with questions about what I like in bed, I generally write them off as timewasters. If they pressure me on the phone to provide services I’ve stated I don’t offer, or balk at screening, I write them off as entitled and difficult – potential abusers.
If a potential client clears that first hurdle, it’s time for the official screening to begin. A client is more likely to comply with screening if they have a few options available to them, so I like to give them a few choices, which I will outline below.
Getting a client to send you a deposit via interac e transfer is a great way to get their real name, which you can Google to see if anything shady comes up.
Of course, this option can give them access to your real name as well, unless you open a business account, which is a lot harder for sex workers than everybody else.
Asking them to send a face picture gives you some peace of mind knowing that, should they become violent in session, you can take their picture to the appropriate authorities or vigilantes.
Combined with a real name that you can search for online, it’s a good assurance that you can make them feel the consequences if necessary.
Getting a reference from another provider that they have seen recently is another good way to put your mind at ease.
However, it should not be used alone, as some predators will see a few escorts, treat them with respect, and then use them as references for providers they intend to abuse. I recommend combining this screening method with another method.
A Photo of Identification
Getting the potential client to send a picture of their ID is a good idea. They are much less likely to mess with you if they know that you know their real name and address.
Bad Date Lists
I cannot stress enough the importance of sex worker community and sharing information. Get connected to local sex worker support groups where you can share information about clients.
Check the potential client’s name and number against bad date lists.
I often program abusive client information that other workers have shared with me into my phone with creative pejorative nicknames so I know not to book them if they call me.
Call their Hotel Room
If you are doing an outcall to a hotel, get the client’s name and room number, then call the hotel and ask to be put through to the potential client’s room. That way you’ll know that they have given you correct information, and that the room in question actually exists.
When I was starting out as an independent, I didn’t always do this, and after a few times waiting awkwardly in a hotel lobby after the timewaster ghosted was enough for me to say, never again!
Some clients will balk at screening. If you can afford to do so, let them go. Why cultivate a professional relationship with someone who doesn’t care about your safety and comfort?
If they are concerned about their personal information getting out, reassure them that you hold their personal information in the highest confidence. A lot of providers advertise that the information is deleted once the client passes screening.
At the end of the day, your safety and wellbeing is number one. There will always be another potential client.